DASSEL, COKATO, MN Following a respectful debate among board members, the Dassel-Cokato School Board voted to accept the gift of the former Dassel-Cokato Regional Ice & Sport Center (DCRISC) with a 5 to 1 vote Aug. 28.
Board chair Rebecca Clemen presented the acceptance of the gifted building to the board for discussion prior to a vote on the issue.
The acceptance of the gift, Clemen said, would allow the board to immediately begin discussion on how the district could best utilize the building.
Board Member Bill Aho was in favor of the vote to accept the building. “This is a step in the right direction, to take action tonight,” he said.
Board Member Irene Bender had several concerns with the proposed action. She pointed out that the district would receive the building by default Jan. 1, 2018 since the DCRISC failed to acquire the necessary certificate of occupancy.
“I have a concern with the term ‘gift,’ Bender continued. “I have complete admiration for what the DCRISC has done, but to take on this big commitment would be a rather chancy step.”
Clemen countered Bender’s concern. “Waiting until Jan. 1, 2018 is not being proactive,” she said. “The sooner we take ownership, the sooner we can have a thorough, well-thought-out plan.”
Superintendent Jeff Powers explained how the process of receiving the building would work from a legal standpoint.
He noted a quit claim deed would be put into place, as well as legal documentation that completely terminated the school district’s building and land lease with the DCRISC.
“Once we do that,” Powers said, “it is your baby.”
Clemen clarified, “Ultimately,” she said, “It’s up to the voters.”
Clemen called for a roll call vote regarding the acceptance of the gift of the former DCRISC building.
Shane Colberg, Dave Sangren, Chuck Nelson, Clemen, and Aho voted in favor of immediate acceptance, while Bender voted against it. Bender reiterated her nay vote was an indication of her desire to take over the building when the contract was up in January 2018.
The board agreed to designate the first portion of the Monday, Sept. 11 special board meeting as a time for official discussion regarding the district’s use of the former DCRISC facility,
District to seek professional help from MSBA
Bender, on behalf of the facility sub-committee, presented information from the Minnesota School Board Association regarding strategic planning services.
Bender said the MSBA could assist the district in determining “what direction we need to go to plan our future.”
Bender said the MSBA would be available to start working with the district in mid-January 2018, and could complete its work in three months.
For $4,200, the MSBA would create two school board-approved online surveys, and hard copy surveys for assessing the opinions of community members.
The MSBA would also create a strategic planning committee of 25 to 30 individuals representing all areas of the district, as well as a variety of representatives from the Dassel and Cokato communities.
The MSBA would facilitate four 2.5-hour meetings with the strategic planning committee.
Following the four meetings, the MSBA consultants would provide templates for developing a district action plan, and suggest a plan for monitoring it.
MSBA’s strategic planning services do not include facilitation and development of the school district’s actual action plan.
“This is a huge step in accomplishing our goal for November of 2018,” Nelson commented, referring to the planned referendum.
The board elected to make use of the MSBA’s strategic planning services.
Ready for learners
Powers told the board that all the needed teachers for the district were in place.
He noted there is still one bus route in need of a driver, and that several paraprofessionals may need to be added due to incoming students’ needs.
Powers also said he had been signing “lots of open enrollments.”
The superintendent expressed appreciation to district custodial staff. “The buildings are looking really great,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a very, very positive start to the school year.”
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved the proposed FFA trip scheduled for Monday, Oct. 23 through Sunday, Oct. 29.
• accepted the low bid of $27,456 from Cokato’s Builders First Source, for materials for use in building this school year’s vocational house.
• updated each other about the negotiations process progress for both certified and non-certified district staff.
• decided to follow the Monday, Sept. 11 former DCRISC building discussion with a closed session in which it would conduct Powers’ performance evaluation.